Gun test: Diana 430L
- Credit: Archant
Mark Camoccio puts the latest incarnation of this classic springer through her paces
List up the key brands for spring-powered airguns, and Diana will undoubtedly be somewhere near the top. Made in Germany, by Mayer Grammelspacher, this prolific premium manufacturer has built up quite a reputation, for robust, properly engineered products, with a standard of finish and workmanship to rival anything. There is a confusing history to the company, with many models being made under the ‘Original’ brand name for a while, but it was landmark models such as the Original 45, hitting the headlines in the late ‘70s, that helped to cement the company’s place in the airgun market.
On test here is the Diana 430L, and although the action has been around for a while, in some form or another, this particular variant is the latest incarnation. Pick this model up out of the box, and first impressions are of a sleek, solidly made sporting tool, with that famous ‘goddess of hunting’ logo proudly stamped on the cylinder. OK, admittedly the styling is a little bland when compared to that gloriously angular, ultra-bold Original 45, that made us sit up and take notice all those years ago – few modern springers can compete in the style stakes with that sporting classic.
A side issue for sure, for what we have here is effectively a direct competitor to Weihrauch’s mighty HW97, and Air Arms’ TX200 range – two of the very best fixed-barrel sporting designs currently available. Diana’s 430L has to be good then, so let’s take a closer look and see just what it has to offer the serious enthusiast. For a start, there’s an attractive ambidextrous beech sporter stock, with laser chequering, underlever action, auto-safety, raised scope rail, and T06 two-stage trigger. Build quality speaks for itself, so let’s get hands on and and see which aspects deliver.
Where the original version of this model had a full-length, Stutzen-style stock, this latest offering sports that sleek sporter design, with a nicely extended fore end and laser-cut chequering to improve grip, on both the fore end, and pistol grip. Spanning 43 inches, this gun isn’t exactly short, so I’m not quite sure why Diana list it as ‘compact’. Yet, it could be termed as ‘slim-line’, given the profile. That sleek curvaceous approach does result in a pleasing hold up front. Likewise, the nicely shaped grip, yet the vaguely styled cheek piece doesn’t help the cause, and it could benefit from being a little higher and better defined.
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Finish to all the metalwork is hard to fault, and the main cylinder, barrel and underlever, all get a mirror finish of chemical bluing, contrasting with the matte black of the cocking lever axis point and muzzle catch assembly. All-metal construction is reassuring, save for the safety catch and trigger guard, and these are well made so that they don’t detract from the overall quality feel. Wood to metal fit is excellent, and build overall is just spot on.
With a fairly short underlever, cocking effort is best described as significant, but be bold with the stroke, and effort is minimised. As usual with this style of gun, the lever should be held throughout for safety, whilst directly feeding a pellet into the open breech. On the plus side, Diana machine out the bottom of the loading bay, so fumble a pellet, and it drops clear out of the bottom – like the Air Arms Pro Sport design. On the negative side, the safety mechanism on my test rifle was faulty. You’ll see a small catch to the right of the sliding breech. This should need to be depressed to allow the cocking lever to return after cocking the action, yet on my test rifle, the catch slid up and down with no effect on the mechanism. However, 430L’s performance overall, was difficult to fault.
A decent trigger always sets a gun on the right path, and Diana’s acclaimed T06 two-stage unit is refined and satisfying to use. A broad, well-shaped blade, and crisp, totally readable release, all come together nicely. This 430L was pretty loud in use, but the shot is a quick snap, with no resonance. and only soft recoil to worry about – almost certainly the result of recoil dampening features incorporated on the inside. That said, I did still need to use an arrestor block to prevent movement of the scope on the rails, but this is par for the course with spring guns overall, and something to be expected. Mounts with an arrestor pin, or a belt and braces, one-piece mount, are all viable solutions.
Groups of better than half inch (3/8 inch) shot over 25 yards, using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, were fairly easy to come by, but it was that slick firing cycle that was as much a part of the story with this model, as the downrange performance.
Get past those safety deficiencies – maybe I was unlucky – and there is plenty to get excited about. Direct feed into the breech, so you can feel a pellet’s fit in the rifling, is always comforting, and the performance on offer overall, quality trigger, slick action, and raw accuracy, can’t fail to impress. So, yes, the Diana 430L comes highly recommended for a variety of tasks.
Model: Diana 430L
Manufacturer: Mayer Grammelspecher, Germany
Type: Underlever, spring-powered
Calibre: .177 on test, .22 available
Overall length: 43”
Stock: Ambidextrous, beech sporter
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Velocity: Using: AA Diablo / Bisley LRG
Energy: 10.8 ft.lbs.
Contact: Edgar Brothers
Tel: 01625 613177
RRP: £389 approx